Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Listening- An Act of Love.

Today at work we had a training on adolescent development and I just loved it. Adolescence is such a sweet time, and this workshop reminded me how much I love working with that age. Truly. This is what I was meant to do, I think...? (among many other things, but this theme bleeds over into so many pieces of my existence; it's hard to ignore.)

So I thought the training was going to be the same ole thing a few of our staff members completed a few months ago with the same instructor, but no-siree. This session was way more in depth and so refreshing and relevant. I must say, my favorite part was when we talked about the value of listening in our jobs. We did an activity called the Peace Circle... which apparently is a well known tool and while I had heard of different forms of it, I had never quite experienced this before.

All 15 or so of us sat on the floor in a circle with a candle lit in the middle and our leader opened up with this quote... and PS. while you read this quote, I encourage you to be completely still, completely present.

"Listen. Do not have an opinion while you listen because frankly, your opinion doesn't hold much water outside of your universe. Just listen. Listen until their brain has been twisted like a dripping towel and what they have to say is all over the floor."
-Hugh Elliott

Our instructor then asked us to describe a time where we felt truly listened to. She then passed a baton/"magic wand" around and you could not speak until you received the baton. We went in the same order each time... apparently, that's important too. It was empowering. And humbling. And eye-opening.

I feel like my heart sincerely comes alive when I am in that sacred space with people, hearing their stories with no distractions, no other noise besides their own voice. It's like pure gold to my ears. All senses are awakened.

And how ironic that we were all being trained on listening when just last week in my small group we were discussing the same topic. Coincidence? I think not. My group of soon-to-be dear friends (we are still developing that, I guess you could say..) sat around a similar, less structured chosen circle (as opposed to mandated and getting paid to be there) and described a situation where we felt truly listened to, validated, received.

I spoke about my experiences with a mentor of mine and how she so intently and actively listens to me in a way that allows me to live in a true and raw kind of freedom, a freedom so rich I can literally taste it. With her, I feel complete freedom to express my emotions, an unleashing of sorts, a release of a language dying to be heard and interpreted. I feel freedom to just be me. And let me tell you, there is nothing better.

This kind and genuine woman ever-so-gently takes all the "should be's" and "would be's" and any and every possible expectation I demand for myself and places them aside. She allows me to recognize these expectations and assumptions for what they are. She even encourages me to give names to them- like "maturity" and "responsibility" and "independence"... characteristics I claim to struggle with as I am learning how to be an adult, at least when I am the judge. But at the end of the day, she interprets, they are "should-be's". They do not hold nor deserve the weight and importance I give them.

And she reminds me of that.

She listens to me for who I am. In fact, she celebrates that with me. When I feel disorganized and scattered, she validates that. She never tries to correct me or "fix" me. She listens. She allows Silence to breathe into our space when it is simply asking for its voice to be heard. And we listen together. What a beautiful voice, like a long and forgotten friend.

Listening. It's a beautiful thing. Question- When's the last time you felt listened to? What did that feel like? Look like? Taste like? Sound like? Smell like?

Live there today.

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